I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar presented by Amanda Kaiser titled “The Stickiest Membership Engagement Programs." Kaiser is a membership engagement specialist who has conducted over 1500 individual membership engagement surveys, and she shares some of the conclusions drawn from these surveys.
Below are eight key takeaways from Kaiser’s presentation:
Have a documented membership engagement plan – The most successful membership engagement plans have been documented, including the number and topic of engagement emails outlined. Having everything documented makes the plan easier to execute, and allows more agility to see where fine tuning can be beneficial in the future.
Don’t abandon your member from the start – After your new member completes the online join process for your association, don’t take them back to the home page! This often causes confusion and a disconnect with the member from their first step. They should (at a minimum) be taken to a screen with a “thanks for joining” message, or some information about next steps. Ideally, you would welcome them and offer access to something of an immediate value, like a benefit or discount.
Engage new members early – If you engage new members early and often, they tend to be more deeply engaged in the association and continue their membership longer. The most effective engagement tools are phone calls, emails, and in-person engagement.
Make a personal member “welcome” call – Don’t underestimate the importance of a member welcome phone call. This call is important to engage the member, find out their needs or concerns, and let them know about key resources they can take advantage of immediately.
Offer something of immediate value – Via phone or email, promote member discounts or use a discount to engage them in an upcoming event. Offer a coupon or free webinar, maybe one free module of a training course or publication. Even a complimentary on-boarding webinar can be impactful. Offering them one useful, complimentary item right away can engage the member within the first week and help them realize the value of membership with your association.
Target your email communications carefully – Messages in the first week should show the new member immediate value or a solution, perhaps promoting one or two member benefits. Bombarding a new member with too many emails, too much data, and too many calls to action can immediately turn them away from the association instead of engaging them.
New member engagement plans should include events – New members should have a “new member” ribbon on their badge at in-person events so key volunteers can help to engage them to make the most of their conference attendance. Consider providing special engagement opportunities for new members at events. A few options would be to have a “welcoming team” at reception, a new member/conference attendee orientation session, or a “conference buddy” option.
Realize that engagement is a long term process – While the type and tone of your initial communication with a new member is crucial, keeping the member engaged over the long haul will take more. An optimal engagement plan includes three valuable emails the first week, one engaging email sent weekly over the next three weeks, then monthly emails for at least six months. Ideally, you want to continue to engage them for a full twelve months by promoting member benefits, committee involvement and more. Keep in mind that the emails should not be complex, and should contain short, frictionless messaging.
Does your association have a solid membership engagement plan?